Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Idiot Flesh - Tales Of Instant Knowledge and Sure Death [1990] @ 224 (Eclectic experimental avantgarde)

Idiot Flesh was an experimental/avantgarde group that later developed into the San Francisco based Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. They released 3 albums and a single EP during their existence in the 1990s. "Tales of Instant Knowledge and Sure Death" was their first outing. There are many different genres and styles all mixed up into a circus-like atmosphere of craziness. Like SGM, Idiot Flesh worked off a mix of dark and threatening-sounding influences, but with less cohesive melding and far more jump-cuts: They would snap on a dime from Metal to Industrial to RIO to 20th Century Classical Quotes and then off the map to Funk or Vaudeville or Country and back just as fast. (Sometimes they resembled a really evil version of Gentle Giant.) As a result, they often sounded more overtly "prog".
Idiot Flesh also used to put on an even more theatrical performance than SGM does: Besides the gargoylish makeup and costumes, they used elaborate props, including giant foam-rubber masks, sets, and inflating suits. Their shows often opened and closed with rackety vaudevillean routines done in and through the audience. On top of this, they worked with many auxiliary sideshow performers, such as the fire-dancer Beefra the Cook, Hatcha and Datcha the Siamese Twins, a Punch and Judy show, and a number of others. All of this made touring a nightmare, although they did manage to get on the road several times a year.
Artistically, the band seemed to aim mostly at repeatedly whapping audiences upside the head to jolt them out of seen-it-all indifference. This worked: they had quite a following in the Bay Area. However, they never seemed too clear on what more they meant by all the quick changes and bizarre visuals. The lyrics didn't help much - they usually put forth sardonic jokes, ruminated about the contradictions of performance and the ironies of pop culture, or wallowed in a self-conscious dark ugliness. Most of the words to Nothing Show derived from their obscure, involved band-mythology. Sometimes Idiot Flesh just seemed like the World's Best Novelty Band (well, West Coast of the US, anyway), although they always offered a wild ride and never failed to deliver on that promise. But at the end, they had started to do more, had begun to find an emotional core in all the routines and style-changes, appeared to have found out what they wanted to say with them. And, although the usual tensions and frustrations caused the Idiots to go the way of all Flesh, much of what they'd become at the end continued on into Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Highly recommended.

much of this review was pulled from one by John Hagelbarger on http://www.gepr.net

Keep Listening!!!!



Anonymous said...

Your blog never disappoints. I am always humbly grateful for it.

I have been looking for this album forever!

BlackwatchPlaid said...

Happy to help out! :-D

lil m said...

I notice the download link is dead, but for the ambitious, I still have some sealed vinyl copies of this release stored. I will pass a copy on for $15 in paypal (includes USPS Insured Shipping). Hit me back if interested...ltd time offer of course. no spaces in address:

lil mikesf @ g mail . com

Anonymous said...

Any chance of posting this one in flac quality? Thanks a bunch!!!

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